Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Living in Love

I talk about love everyday!  The truth is (I read it in my Bible) that the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.

My twelve year old daughter, who has recently started reading the Bible every night for herself and who has experienced life with a selfish and angry mom that has been transformed by love, tells me very simply that the only thing that makes any sense at all is love.

It's true.  When two people are acting selfishly, offense is bound to happen and arguments turn ugly.  (James 4:1-3)  If one person responds in love (Proverbs 15:1), then anger is turned away.  Love does not take offense, no matter what the other person says or does, because love is not selfish.  (Proverbs 19:11, 1 Corinthians 13:5)  Love cares for the well-being of the one who is suffering from their own selfishness.

Because I am not blinded by my own selfishness, I am able to see that selfishness blinds people to their own sin.  They are able to see the sin of others, but are completely blind to their own sin.  Because I am not blinded by my own selfishness, I do not take offense at other people's behavior.  I'm not offended, so I am able to see how the other person's selfishness destroys them.  I am able to see how it hurts them.  I am able to have compassion for them, be patient with them, and love them, regardless of what they throw at me.

It's not about me.  It's about Him, who is love, and my faith in His name (who He is) expressing itself through love.  I demonstrate my love for Him by loving others, no matter what it costs me.  That is how he loves me.  He demonstrated His love for us in this: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  (Romans 5:8)

One example of what this looks like:  Yesterday, one of my children gave the devil a foothold by getting angry at another child for not giving him/her (I'll just say he) what he wanted.  He was acting very selfishly, pushing himself on others and forcing his way into someone else's game.  When that didn't work, he got angry and started hurling accusations at others.  (This does not happen often anymore, but it does happen.)  Another child came to get me so that I could help the angry child, who was acting out in front of our guests.  It was an awkward situation, once it was initiated.  I called the child out of the room.  He was furious that I had been called and that things were not going his way.  He stomped past me to meet me in my room where I had directed him to go so we could talk in private.  I wanted to remove the child from the awkward situation.  I didn't want the child to make a spectacle of himself any longer, and I needed a quiet space to love my out of control child.

Discipline looks like this:  My child was angry!  He sat there on the couch in our room with his arms crossed, his eyebrows furled, and his lips pursed.  I sat down next to my child and said nothing.  I prayed quietly, because I really did not know quite what to say.  I asked God to help me handle this in love.  My child began to throw angry accusations out about the one who was not giving him his way.  I gently tried to show this child how he was being selfish by trying to push his way into someone else's game.  That did not go over so well.  My child began to hurl insults and accusations at me.  I was tempted to get angry, but...the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.  I prayed quietly and sat silently, looking at my child with compassion.  I could see that this child was miserable.  He was the most miserable person in the house.  His selfishness was eating him up.

I did not rebuke my child for treating me with dishonor.  He was accusing me of being selfish.  He was accusing me of not loving him.  He was accusing me of being a hypocrite.  It didn't hurt, because it is simply not true.  He got angry at me for talking about love, and he said that he hated that I always talked about love.  He said that he hates the Bible.  He said that he hated everything about me.  It didn't hurt, because I knew that none of it was true.  This was not my child speaking.  He had given the devil a foothold, and the devil went all out shouting lies into my child's mind.  I just looked at my child and told him that I loved him.  He scowled at me.  I sat quietly.  I really was not angry.

After a short time, my child looked at me and asked for a hug.  I held out my arms, and he scooted over, sat in my lap, and began to cry.  He told me that he felt awful.  He told me that he stuck his tongue out at his sibling.  He knew that he had been selfish.  He knew he was wrong.  I didn't have to say a thing.

Once my child was calm, I asked if we could talk about what happened.  We were able to discuss how selfishness hurts the one who is being selfish.  It hurts others, too.  I asked if he was ready to go join everyone else.  We left the room happy and all was well after that.

Today, the same child had a brief moment with selfishness.  We were cleaning up and gathering things to give away.  We found a toy that we had not seen in a while.  An older sibling then gave it to a younger sibling, but it actually belonged to this child.  Oops.  Before we could straighten it all out and figure out what to do with the toy, the child lost control.  I stayed calm, always thinking how to respond with authority and with love.  The child did eventually see how his response of anger due to offense revealed his selfishness.

We decided that so much negative feelings were now associated with the toy that we did not to keep it, because every time he played with the toy he would remember his selfishness and he didn't think he would enjoy it anymore.  I agree.

My child was able to see his own selfishness, because the light of love in me exposed his sin.  He was not able to be distracted by my behavior.  The only wrong behavior in the room was his.  We are the light of the world!

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